New York State School Boards Association

SREB helps Monroe 1 BOCES take CTE to a higher level

On Board Online • February 27, 2012

By John Walker and Joyce Cymber

To better prepare career and technical students for college and career, Monroe 1 BOCES is participating in a CTE improvement program called Technology Centers That Work (TCTW).

TCTW is a program of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, founded in 1948 to improve public pre-K-12 and higher education.

A long-term commitment, the program involves periodic trainings and site visits.

One result is that four “focus” teams led by faculty members have been meeting monthly since September at the BOCES’ Eastern Monroe Career Center (EMCC). All career center staff participate on one of the four teams:

  • High Expectations Team. Implement high expectations for student learning throughout the school and ensure extra help is available for all students. Integrate these expectations into classroom practices with frequent feedback.
  • Guidance Team. Determine what prompts students leaving EMCC and how to reduce the dropout rate.
  • Extra Help Team. Provide a structured system of extra help to assist students in completing programs of study with high-level academic and technical content.
  • Continuous Improvement Team. Identify and implement strategies that support EMCC’s mission to prepare students for success in careers and further study. Use student assessment and program evaluation data, enrollments, retention and placement reports to continuously improve culture and curriculum to advance student learning.

Team leaders meet with administrators quarterly to discuss progress and plan.

The BOCES’s participation in TCTW has been endorsed by the State Education Department and is supported by federal Perkins funding.

The work began in July 2010, when SREB provided information on research-based practices that effectively improve achievement for all groups of students. According to SREB, using these practices strongly conveys to students that the adults involved in their education believe the students can learn at high levels. It also communicates that career and technical educators are committed to supporting the students until they meet desired standards.

Key elements include:

  • Engaging students in rigorous and challenging assignments using research-based strategies and technology.
  • Motivating students to meet high expectations by integrating high expectations into classroom practices and giving students frequent feedback.
  • Teaching students the essential concepts of the college-preparatory curriculum by encouraging them to apply academic content and skills to real-world problems and projects within their career/technical studies.

In October 2010, SREB facilitated a site development workshop for 14 EMCC staff members, which introduced them to TCTW’s 10 Key Practices that impact student achievement. From these 10 practices, EMCC staff identified their strengths and major weaknesses and then selected four key practices as priorities for school improvement. This evolved into the four focus teams.

In March 2011, SREB conducted a three-day technical assistance visit (TAV) to help EMCC’s leaders and teachers identify changes needed to improve student achievement. SREB experts led a TAV team comprised of administrators, counselors, and faculty from component school districts and other BOCES. Team members conducted 60 classroom observations and led guided conversations with focus groups of students, staff, parents, and other stakeholders. The SREB team also reviewed data that included teacher certifications, enrollment, retention, completions, curriculum, assessments, dual credit/articulation agreements, industry certifications, and student follow-up reports (job/college).

EMCC’s promising practices were identified during the TAV as follows:

  • EMCC has met the Perkins State Performance Targets for the last two years.
  • Most EMCC students are actively engaged in their programs, particularly in the laboratory experiences.
  • EMCC students may be awarded academic credit through their CTE programs by their component high school. Dual or articulated credit in many CTE programs is also available at regional postsecondary institutions.
  • EMCC has a well-developed and established work-based learning program.

The TAV team’s findings and recommendations culminated in a report outlining challenges and actions, forming the foundation for developing EMCC’s five-year school improvement plan.

EMCC’s work with TSTW has created the opportunity for a structured, research-based model to create a culture of high expectations and high achievement. The program provides a structure to ensure that the EMCC slogan “Learn, Do, Be More” will apply to staff as well as students.

John Walker is school-community relations coordinator and Joyce Cymber is director of career and technical education at Monroe 1 BOCES.

About EMCC

The Eastern Monroe Career Center (EMCC) is a suburban career and technical center located in Fairport, east of Rochester, serving 12 area high schools. EMCC uses a two-session schedule, 140 minutes for the first and 125 minutes for the second. Enrollment is about 700 students in grades 11 and 12; the student population is 83 percent white, 10 percent black, 4 percent Hispanic or Latino, and 2 percent Asian. Thirty-six percent of the students are special needs students. EMCC has a faculty of 32 full-time and two part-time teachers, all of whom meet or exceed state and federal definitions of highly qualified, and the staff offers training in 20 career/technical fields.                                                                                                 

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